LIHUE – The Waimea boys and girls varsity teams played the part of ungracious guests and pulled out dramatic victories last night at the Raider gymnasium in front of a noisy crowd of volleyball fanatics to clinch KIF first round titles with identical 3-0 records.
Waimea 4-15, 15-8, 15-12
Fans have come to expect their money’s worth in KIF boys varsity volleyball matches as this was the fourth three-setter in as many matches this season.
Kaua’i came out storming in game 1 as sophomore middle Futi Tavana and senior outside Kamu Kawaihalau (8 of their combined team-high 22 kills) turned up the heat with monstrous putdowns from setter Aukai Dennis.
The second set was an uneven contest of runs with the Menehunes jumping out to a 5-0 advantage on the strength of three Raider hitting miscues, a lift call, and a Jeremy McDown kill of a Kaua’i overpass. The Raiders chipped away to cut the difference to 5-3 but a 5-0 Desmond Rodrigues service run bumped it back to 10-3. A Dennis sideline dump found the hosts down 13-8 but a hitting error following a Waimea time out returned serve to the west-siders.
Both teams failed to score on their next two possessions until a Vinzant dump and an errant Raider spike attempt fell wide to end the nail-biter.
The deciding game was a heavyweight clash till the end. Kaua’i clawed its way to an 11-5 edge only to watch the battling Menehunes storm back to tie the game at 12-all on a crossing call at the centerline. Waimea took the lead for good on a Vinzant/McDown rejection of a Raider angle dink attempt. Rodrigues helped pick up the final two points of the contest on a kill shot to the open corner and a hard dump of a Norman Vea pass.
“We knew we were going to come out flat- we always do some kind of work on Saturday’s before we come to the matches and we looked flat,” said head coach Bobby Kamakele, “They came out with a different lineup and breezed through everything. We just had to go back and play the game. Even though we’ve won all our matches, we’ve been struggling. Hopefully in the second round we’ll get our other kid (Talon Abat) back and then we can do what we want to do.”
The exciting victory clinched first half play for the Menehunes (3-0) as they have only one contest left in the round while the Raiders (1-2) and Warriors (0-2) each currently share a pair of losses.
Waimea 15-5, 17-15
In the end experience overshadowed exhuberance- but it wasn’t easy.
The Menehunes utilized 14 kills and three service aces to cruise to a relatively quick game one win.
Kapa’a travels to the Clem Gomes gym on Wednesday, October 9th, to take on the Menehunes with junior varsity girl’s action scheduled to start at 3 p.m. The Raiders end first round play on Saturday with a road trip to the Bernice Hundley gym on the Kapaa campus.
Boys game stats and a more detailed girls varsity report will appear in Monday’s TGI edition.